The Bret Harte Union High School District (BHUHSD) Governing Board approved its 2019-2020 budget at a board meeting in Angels Camp on June 26.

The budget included 1.72 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff reductions due to attrition and a decline in enrollment. This included a 0.5 FTE reduction in certificated staff (teachers), a 0.5 FTE reduction of a classified para-educator position, and a reduction of 0.35 FTE for the current superintendent position, and its replacement with a full-time position.

Over the past eight years, annual enrollment has declined from 726 in 2011-2012 to an estimated 613 for the 2019-2020 school year.

All departments will also face a 10% reduction in funding.

This is “not unusual for any district trying to balance a budget,” Chief Business Official Christine Fouts said. “Bret Harte has not reduced funding for our departments in many years, even though our enrollment has decreased.”

Total revenues are estimated at $11.57 million, while total expenses are estimated at $11.54 million.

Property tax income is expected to increase by 2% each year for the next three years. Federal revenues are estimated to increase by 6%.

Revenues from the state are projected to decrease by 47.5%, due to the loss of one-time grants that were not reauthorized. However, some funds could be carried over into the current year.

Reserves are expected to increase to $650,932 in 2019-2020, up from $550,000 in 2018-2019, and $189,289 over the minimum recommended reserve amount.

The budget included $15,000 to operate a summer school program, with the cost funding three teachers and the cyber high class support staff.

Contributions to charter schools are estimated to increase to $224,328.

Appropriations of $147,000 have been made for vocational educational staffing.

An 8% increase in nonsalary costs is anticipated, covering workers’ compensation, special education, property and liability, unemployment insurance and PERS/STRS employer retirement compensation.

The cost of heating, fuel, sewage, garbage and water is projected to increase by 5%.

Salaries are set to increase by 1.67%.

This year’s certificate of participation payment is $285,000. Of this, roughly $185,000 will be paid for with developer fees, while the rest will be paid out of the general fund.

This year, there is a one-time decrease of 1% to STRS rates, while PERS rates are estimated to increase from 18.062% to 20.70%.

Current obligations to all retirees total $446,365. For 2019-2020, the district has allocated $202,500 from the general fund to meet these expenses.

“Our salaries and benefits make up approximately 85% of our budget,” Fouts said. “STRS and PERS retirement contributions continue to increase and are a hardship for all districts.”

The funds for books and supplies will decline by 24.1%, due to the discontinuation of one-time revenues for the 2018-2019 school year. However, some funds from the previous year will likely be carried over into this year, once the books for 2018-2019 are balanced and closed.

The remaining balance in the construction fund is dedicated to $750,000 for a future heating, ventilation and air conditioning project, $250,000 for a future field replacement, and $19,715 for general maintenance.

Slightly more than half of the budget, 50.41%, is dedicated to expenses directly associated with classroom instruction, slightly higher than the required amount of at least 50%.

The budget was passed by a 3-0 vote by all board members present.

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Reporter

Noah Berner has lived in Calaveras County most of his life, and graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz with a degree in history.

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